Criticizing Israel is anti-Semitism: PM
JERUSALEM—Blaming Israel for the problems of the Middle East, or demanding boycotts against the Jewish state, comprise nothing more than a new form of anti-Semitism, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Harper made the remarks to the Knesset, becoming the first Canadian prime minister ever to speak directly to the assembled members of the Israeli parliament.
“We have witnessed, in recent years, the mutation of the old disease of anti-Semitism and the emergence of a new strain,” Harper said.
He said criticism of Israeli government policy isn’t anti-Semitic but criticism which only targets Israel, while ignoring violence and oppression in its neighbours, is unacceptable.
“It is, thus, a Canadian tradition to stand for what is principled and just, regardless of whether it is convenient or popular,” Harper said.
“But, I would argue, support today for the Jewish state of Israel is more than a moral imperative,” he added.
“It is also of strategic importance; also a matter of our own, long-term interests.”
Harper said the forces that have threatened Israel “every single day of its existence” threaten all countries, “as 9/11 graphically showed us.”
The prime minister said he refuses to single out Israel for criticism, saying it is easy to follow the international crowd and focus only on that one country.
That approach is both weak and wrong, he noted.
Harper said Canada holds that Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is absolute, and that it would be quick to welcome a new sovereign Palestinian state if its leaders choose democracy and peace.
“Just as we unequivocally support Israel’s right of self-defence, so, too, Canada has long supported a just and secure future for the Palestinian people,” Harper said
“And, I believe, we share with Israel a sincere hope that the Palestinian people and their leaders will choose a viable, democratic, Palestinian state, committed to living peacefully alongside the Jewish state of Israel.”